King Charles I
Biography of King Charles I
Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles believed was divinely ordained. Many of his English subjects opposed his actions, in particular his interference in the English and Scottish churches and the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, because they saw them as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch.
Charles's reign was also characterised by religious conflicts. His failure to successfully aid Protestant forces during the Thirty Years' War, coupled with the fact that he married a Roman Catholic princess, generated deep mistrust concerning the king's dogma. Charles further allied himself with controversial ecclesiastic figures, such as Richard Montagu and William Laud, whom Charles appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Many of Charles's subjects felt this brought the Church of England too close to the Roman Catholic Church. Charles's later attempts to force religious reforms upon Scotland led to the Bishops' Wars, strengthened the position of the English and Scottish parliaments and helped precipitate his own downfall.
Charles's last years were marked by the English Civil War, in which he fought the forces of the English and Scottish parliaments, which challenged his attempts to overrule and negate parliamentary authority, whilst simultaneously using his position as head of the English Church to pursue religious policies which generated the antipathy of reformed groups such as the Puritans. Charles was defeated in the First Civil War (1642–45), after which Parliament expected him to accept its demands for a constitutional monarchy. He instead remained defiant by attempting to forge an alliance with Scotland and escaping to the Isle of Wight. This provoked the Second Civil War (1648–49) and a second defeat for Charles, who was subsequently captured, tried, convicted, and executed for high treason. The monarchy was then abolished and a republic called the Commonwealth of England, also referred to as the Cromwellian Interregnum, was declared. Charles's son, Charles II, who dated his accession from the death of his father, did not take up the reins of government until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.